TASHKENT (Reuters) -Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has been re-elected for a second five-year term, winning 80.1% of the vote in Sunday’s poll which Western observers said was not truly competitive despite improvements brought by recent reforms.
Mirziyoyev’s widely expected victory will allow him to deepen his reform campaign and likely lead to Uzbekistan opening up further to foreign trade and investment – while retaining a highly centralised political system.
Mirziyoyev has lifted some restrictions on religious practices, reined in the powerful security services and overseen the release of some political prisoners.
He has also rebuilt the resource-rich country’s ties with both Russia and the West and pledges to cut poverty through rapid economic growth and gradually decentralise decision-making by devolving some powers to district councils.
Observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said that recent political reforms had not yet resulted in a genuinely pluralistic environment.
“While multiple candidates contested the election, there was no meaningful engagement with each other or with voters, and candidates refrained from challenging or criticising the incumbent,” the observation mission said in a statement.
Central Election Commission Chairman Zayniddin Nizamkhodjaev said the vote adhered to democratic standards as he declared Mirziyotev victorious on Monday, citing preliminary results.
Mirziyoyev spoke to campaign staff and reporters shortly after the results announcement.
“I am grateful to and bow in front of our mothers, sisters, daughters, fellow party members for trusting and choosing me,” he said.
(Reporting by Mukhammadsharif MamatkulovAdditional reporting and writing by Olzhas Auyezov in Almaty; Editing by Jon Boyle and Alison Williams)